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Consumer Reports: The "Dirty Dozen" Dietary Supplements

Consumer Reports' September 2010 issue features an article entitled “Dangerous Supplements”. This CR article includes testimonials of adulterated products, 12 supplements to avoid, 12 supplements you should consider, and how consumers can research health and nutrition supplements. The media has had a blast reporting this news story, and it is disappointing, to say the least, to see how one-sided some of the reporting has been.  

Every year thousands of people get sick from eating food contaminated with food borne illnesses, and some of these people die.  Does this mean that all food manufacturers and restaurants are unregulated?  Of course not!  The FDA, USDA and your state and local governments inspect these facilities to protect the public.  This system isn’t going to catch every violation, but it can detect crooked companies and get them to correct their harmful activities and/or shut them down.  This same system applies to foods, health supplements and pharmaceuticals.  Just look at some of the lists of FDA recalls

How To Choose & Evaluate Dietary Supplements
The consumption of dietary supplements really comes down to being a smart consumer (just like everything else you buy, from TVs and cars to a college education).  Research the supplements that you are going to consume.  Ask yourself questions like: Why should I take this? What is the benefit? Is this right for me? You may or may not be able to ask your doctor about dietary supplements.  There are several online research sources available, but these are two that Consumer Reports mentions:
  1. National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: This free website can be useful for researching vitamins, minerals, and common herbs. It also contains information regarding decision making and consumer safety.
  2. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: This database requires a subscription, but could be well worth the price for information regarding safety, effectiveness, and interactions with other supplements, medications or medical conditions.
After you research what you are going to take, find a credible company to purchase your dietary supplements.  Research health supplements online, visit health and nutrition stores and talk to other people who take dietary supplements.  Swanson Health Products was founded in 1969, and we regularly interact with our regional FDA representatives who have, on various occasions, inspected our facility and reviewed our policies and practices.  We also offer a seven-leaf guarantee that allows us to earn your trust. 

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) issued a press release regarding the generalizations made about the supplement industry in the Dangerous Supplements article and news coverage.  These generalizations do not represent the mainstream supplement industry.  Americans loves dietary supplements, and they truly can support and enhance a healthy lifestyle.  Remember, there are two sides to every story and usually the truth lies somewhere in between.

What are your thoughts on this latest report on dietary supplements? How do you research the supplements you take or consider adding to your supplement regimen?

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